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Forum: Article: Use the Winter Sowing Method to Grow a Rainbow of Annual FlowersReplies: 30, Views: 212
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Jax4ever
Boxford, MA
(Zone 6a)

April 3, 2008
5:24 AM

Post #4749475

I, too, will NEVER have the room indoors to start all the annuals I want to grow. What terrific news to hear that I can start planting some now!
I was going to try a very few of certain annuals outdoors as an experiment- now I have the confidence to plant a few more flats outdoors now!!!
THANK YOU, Jill!!!
P. S. I always feel guilty if I don't get around to planting all the plants I sowed. That's just silly! I do the best I can and that's that. Seeds cost pennies, and it's good to have too many than not enough!

darius

darius
So.App.Mtns.
United States
(Zone 5b)

April 3, 2008
12:15 PM

Post #4749923

Good Article, Jill. Simple and easy to understand, and therefore encouraging a plan of action!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 3, 2008
1:01 PM

Post #4750078

Thanks! It's amazing what a few packets of seed from the Dollar Store or the "cheap" rack at WalMart can turn into... and as I've become more confident about the WS method, I've been entrusting my more "special" seeds to it also.

It's wonderful to have flats of annuals to set out... I don't know about anybody else, but when I have to pay for them by the pot or by the 6-pack, I always come home with fewer than I'd really like, and I parcel them out very carefully in my containers and borders. Whether you start seeds inside or outside, by growing your own you can be lavish with them!
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

April 3, 2008
2:01 PM

Post #4750323

Thanks, Critter-Jill! Loved the lists of plants you gave, in order of their hardiness. You've inspired me to get those seeds out into my milk jugs again!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 3, 2008
2:14 PM

Post #4750389

:-)

There was some overlap and some disagreement between lists of hardy, half-hardy, and tender annuals from various sources... but I tried to pick a few examples that I figured were most likely to work out well, based on my own success with them and/or seeing success reports from folks in the WS forum.

There are lots of other annuals that will do fine with this method also, so don't limit yourself to the ones mentioned in the article!
beth_donovan
Easton, KS
(Zone 5b)

April 3, 2008
3:30 PM

Post #4750865

I really like this winter sowing! I have sown some seeds in flats under light and I'm sowing some of the same seeds the winter sowing method - so I can see which seeds do better with which method.

I had never heard of it until I found DG - it's just so easy to do!

Thanks for the great article!
darlindeb
Claremore, OK

April 3, 2008
3:51 PM

Post #4750965

Loved it! It's nice when you can put your arrow on the pictures and find out what the plant pictured is. Another home run from Jill!
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

April 3, 2008
5:49 PM

Post #4751424

Jill, Great article. I enjoyed the Ground Hog Day article as well. I was looking for the Direct Seeding Forum when I saw your article. Maybe direct seeding is an intuitive thing, but it was surprising for me to learn that a delicate looking flower like cleome requires some cold to germinate. I've planted cleome seedlings, but they haven't come up. Maybe that's why. Do you think you might do an article on direct sowing?
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 3, 2008
6:18 PM

Post #4751560

Pam, I direct sow when I have bunches of seed to scatter around (like when I save or purchase big handfuls of zinnia seeds), but mostly I start seeds by some method that offers them a little initial protection. We have literally dozens of rabbits around here, so between them and the slugs that become an issue during wet springs, tiny seedlings out in the garden just don't have good survival rates for me. Also, I think I just don't pay close enough attention to things that are "way out there"... plants in pots on my deck or in flats on my seed starting shelves get a lot more TLC (and water when they need it).

Although there isn't (as far as I know) as Direct Seeding forum, you could probably get questions about direct sowing answered in the forum for whatever type of plant you're sowing -- veggies, perennials, etc... hmm, the cottage garden forum might be a good place to ask, too.

Posts I've seen about Cleome seem to say that people have sowed it successfully later in spring (either directly or in WS containers) but that they get better germination when the seeds get some cold stratification.
Jax4ever
Boxford, MA
(Zone 6a)

April 3, 2008
6:46 PM

Post #4751687

I am considering doing an article on direct sowing, but it will have to be after this growing season. I've had better luck direct sowing perennial seed than annuals, but I have a few ideas to try this season. I actively garden the perimeter of my property- "way out there" b/c it's what I see from my windows, plus poses the greatest challenge. I can't water it as easily, so I'm trying to figure out how to keep seeds moist- but not soaked- while they germinate. On trick I'm trying this year is to put 1-3 seeds into a gel capsule w/ a few polymer crystals. I've pushed the capsule just under the soil (I did this last fall, b/f frost). Since it's been thawing, I've noticed little gel mounds here and there! I hope it works! (Of course, if it does, I'll be spending hours shoving seeds into gel capsules...groan..) I'm going to try it w/easy annuals, like marigold or zinnia.
Sharran
Calvert City, KY
(Zone 7a)

April 3, 2008
7:57 PM

Post #4751990

Great article, Jill, thanks.
grampapa
Wheatfield, NY
(Zone 6a)

April 4, 2008
1:25 AM

Post #4753554

Right on the money and just in time again, Jill. I'm out of room in the house. The seedlings are pushing my orchids out of their cart, we can't get near any of our windows, and all of my kitchen counters have shrunk because there are plants under the cabinet lights. Lots of room on the patio, though :0)

Thanks,
~ jan
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 4, 2008
3:44 AM

Post #4754345

:-) I know I can't make myself stop sowing when I've still got such a supply of nifty seeds! I'm glad I could pass along some good tips.

You're going to be very, very busy in a few weeks!
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

April 7, 2008
5:12 PM

Post #4770958

I really like the idea of perimeter sowing. I have many more seeds than beds to put them into thanks to some DG angels. I know I've seen wild flower mixes with some of the seeds. There is plenty of pasture beyond the area we've designated as lawn that I can experiment with, that is if the deer don't get them. Somewhere I read an article on someone who takes their seed, clay soil, a little potting soil and a little compost, wets it and rolls it into little terracotta like balls and throws them on waste space. Rain and weather break down the little balls and provide a small growing medium and some of the flowers take hold. She wrote that she had been doing this for years in a waste space near her property and it had become a real field of flowers. Does anyone recall this or know what it's called?
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 7, 2008
6:06 PM

Post #4771237

I've seen seed balls like that for sale, and they were very pricey for the amount of seed contained... you could probably direct sow 50 times the amount of seed for that price and get similar results. But I have considered making my own (they'd be a great little gift, too), just haven't gotten 'round to it, LOL. I think polymer moisture crystals would be another good addition to the seed/clay/compost mix. I wish I remembered who recently posted about putting seeds together with a few polymer moisture crystals in gelatin capsules... neat idea, but it sure sounded tedious! Then again, it would be as good as knitting for giving your hands something useful to do while watching a movie or TV show on a winter day. :-)
kqcrna
Cincinnati, OH
(Zone 6a)

April 7, 2008
7:40 PM

Post #4771620

Nice article, Jill.

Karen
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 7, 2008
9:33 PM

Post #4772124

Thanks, Karen!
dianne99
Brookville, KS
(Zone 5b)

April 8, 2008
11:56 PM

Post #4778121

Thank you so much Critter. I have nothing ready for traditional seed starting this year--or the time to do it, but will not lose out this spring because of your article.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 9, 2008
12:08 AM

Post #4778170

I hope you get some pretties to plant out! :-)
Jax4ever
Boxford, MA
(Zone 6a)

April 9, 2008
1:30 AM

Post #4778702

Karen, someone else is doing seeding w/ the capsules? I hope it worked! I'll do a search...
If you buy the size "000" it isn't that tedious b/c those are the biggest avail., the size of horse pills! I had them b/c I was using them to store pollen anthers. Gel capsules aren't the cheapest things in the world, either- generally 200 cost $8.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 9, 2008
3:56 AM

Post #4779665

Jax! You're the one who posted that.. now I know!

I haven't heard of anybody else using capsules, but I've seen the little balls of clay + compost + seeds in several stores & catalogs now.
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

April 9, 2008
12:36 PM

Post #4780595

Well, I'm going to give it a try, probably with the clay, which is at hand. If I get to town in the next couple days, I'll get the polymer and go for the gel caps. Darn, I was just at the feed store yesterday. I'll bet they had both, but I was mesmerized by all the alfafa meal, gypsum, green soil, worm castings, and apple cider, and coconut oil. They were too busy for me to bother them about what the last two were for.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 9, 2008
12:44 PM

Post #4780640

Hmm... after a long afternoon of digging in the wet spring garden, a mug of spiced cider and a nice massage (coconut oil) would be a treat!
Jax4ever
Boxford, MA
(Zone 6a)

April 9, 2008
11:24 PM

Post #4783797

A-men to the cider! Maybe a glass of wine for me!
I've sown 12 new flats of annuals since reading this: ipomea, cosmos, viola, torenia, sweet pea. I am going to sow some nasturiums tomorrow! It's supposed to be 70 out, so it isn't wintersown anymore!
I'm not using up my whole seed packets on the early sowing; I'm saving some of everything to direct-sow, too. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out!!!
Isn't Spring Optimism wonderful!? Check back with me in August, when I'm raging against the weeds and wishing 2 ft of snow would squash everything!!!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 10, 2008
2:20 AM

Post #4784720

LOL... I like your optimism! The torenia will take a while to bloom, but I got blooms later on in summer from some volunteers last year. (And late blooming torenia are better than no torenia, in my book.)

:-)
Jax4ever
Boxford, MA
(Zone 6a)

April 10, 2008
4:33 PM

Post #4787273

There are so many seeds/plants that I gave up on and marked as failures simply b/c they didn't bloom early enough. Plants teach us many lessons, but maybe optimism, patience, and persistence are the best.
Eeversman
Edwards, CO
(Zone 5a)

March 1, 2010
7:14 PM

Post #7597285

The gel capsule is a great idea. I sowed an expensive pint of wildflower mix which is supposed to be flowers that are natural to the Rocky Mountains at 7,500 feet where I live. I also sowed California poppies and daisies. Not ONE plant out of thousands of seeds came up! The area is watered, but the hot sun and wind dries it quickly. So I'll try a few with gel capsules this year just to see if that works.

I have another WONDERFUL use for the gel. I have gardens that pour water down onto my driveway when snow melts. This year I took an old white towel and a few white bar towels, wound them up into a long roll and poured some polymer on the towels and the garden side. The water is sucked up and frozen solid, then dried out, then sucked up again, etc. Absolutely solved the problem of frozen pools of water on my driveway! They are the same color as the snow, so unless you look closely aren't visible either.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 1, 2010
8:06 PM

Post #7597423

you do have some extra challenges in your location... of course, you've got stunning scenery to make up for it!

good tip with the polymer crystals. thanks!
Pamgarden
Central, VA
(Zone 7b)

February 10, 2011
11:56 AM

Post #8364672

Just the nudge to get me going. We have a number of gallon-size plastic water bottles I was about to drive to the recycling center. I forgot about this article. It was one of the first I read when I got my membership several years ago. The little green houses worked well for me then. I'm going to do it again. Thanks again Jill.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

February 10, 2011
3:20 PM

Post #8364990

:-)

I've just started my wintersowing... won't get to doing the more tender annuals for another month or two, though! There are a few things I need to get going under lights this week, also, like Torenia (I like having nice big blooming plants to set out in May!).

If you need a greater variety of seed, remember we've got a swap in Frederick Feb. 26.

cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

February 10, 2011
3:26 PM

Post #8364997

Eeversman, you might try making seed balls with wildflower mix to get a better result.

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